Air Force and industry technicians joined forces to get two damaged B-52H bombers from Guam back to the United States for repair. Last fall, airmen discovered a crack in the rear spar terminal fitting of aircraft 61-003. This fitting is where the wing meets the aircraft’s fuselage; it supports a large percentage of the wing’s load, according to B-52 specialists at Tinker AFB, Okla. Craftsmen beefed up the area with plates so the B-52 could make the trip to Wichita, Kan., in March for more permanent repair at Boeing’s aircraft facility there. In October 2010, the second B-52, aircraft 61-039, suffered severe structural damage after catastrophic failure of its No. 5 inboard engine during takeoff. The aircraft needed a new strut before its trip to Wichita in August. Both aircraft were “107” cases, meaning they required repair beyond the capability of the expeditionary unit. (Tinker release)
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.